As the weather warms and the world turns green once again, many of us are inspired to tackle some spring cleaning. Freshening up the interior and exterior of a home can make a world of difference, and there is no better motivating factor than the sense of renewal that spring engenders. When making your list of spring cleaning tasks, be sure to remember to give your HVAC unit a seasonal maintenance check.
Your HVAC unit is one of the most underappreciated components of your home. It plugs along all year, keeping your family and home comfortable. Unfortunately, many people fail to give their HVAC unit any attention unless there is a problem. By taking the time to do a seasonal maintenance check, it is possible to extend the life of the unit and avoid costly repair bills. Spring cleaning an HVAC system involves a few tasks that any homeowner can easily accomplish.
The first step is to check the system’s filter(s). Different systems have different filters, and the replacement schedule can vary widely. That said, there are few among us who check and replace our HVAC filters as frequently as we should. Many systems use fiberglass filters which can simply be replaced, and spring is a good time to ensure that you have a supply of these filters on hand. Other systems have a HEPA filter, which can be cleaned with a standard vacuum cleaner hose. Cleaning the filter helps to keep pollutants, dust, and other particles out of your HVAC equipment, and out of the air that your family breathes.
Next, step outside and check the area surrounding your external HVAC unit. The unit and the base upon which it stands should be free of any debris. If leaves or other forms of debris have accumulated around the unit, use a rake or leaf blower to clear the entire area. If debris has fallen onto the unit from the roof, check to ensure that the gutters are working properly, and take any steps needed to direct the flow of water and roof debris away from the HVAC unit.
Begin by turning off the power supply that runs your HVAC unit. Inspect the unit itself, and look for any buildup of dirt on the fan blades or the condenser coils. If there is visible dirt or grime on the fan, remove the external cover and gently clean the blades of the fan. Never attempt to repair bent or damaged fan blades; they must be replaced. Bending a fan blade could result in an improperly balanced fan, which can damage the fan motor or come into contact with the condenser.
Next, inspect the condenser coils for bent fins. These tiny metal fins can be easily damaged by debris that is thrown from a lawnmower, accidental impact during yard work or even careless weedeating. Pressure washing is one of the most common ways that fins become damaged. If a large number of fins are bent, the unit cannot properly “breathe.” If they have become dirty or clogged, it is possible to clean them with a special fin comb. If the fins are simply dirty, they can be cleaned using coil cleaner and a water hose.
These basic HVAC spring cleaning tips can help homeowners ensure that their unit is in optimal condition for the upcoming cooling season. By taking the time to inspect and clean filters, fans, condensers, and the external unit as a whole, it is possible to avoid a wide range of costly repair needs, and to enjoy your system for many more years to come!